Your coworker doesn’t hate you.
You did not get passed over for the job because they “hated” you.
So that girl forgot to send you the invitation—so what?
Your best friend didn’t “do it on purpose” because she knows what gets under your skin—and your mom didn’t either.
They were just wrapped up in their own worlds, and it happened to sting you in the process.
Please understand this: it’s not personal.
Today, I found myself frustrated because my best friend hasn’t picked up the phone the last couple of days.
My mind went straight to: “She is obviously mad that I didn’t call sooner.”
We’ve been friends for 20 years, and it is not the first time a significant distance has separated us. She is in Tijuana, while I’m in Brooklyn, but we are used to this—we love each other and understand that time zones and schedules can get complicated, but we do talk at least once a day during the weekdays.
So, if it’s Tuesday and she isn’t picking up the phone, she must be mad at me.
I scratch my head, thinking of different things I could have done to offend her. I have been so busy with moving and settling in a new city, and having a toddler is a full-time job. Plus, the three-hour difference in time f*cks up calling.
The day goes by, and I get busy…but the thought lingers in the back of my head. At the end of the day, after getting my kiddo down for bed, I go to my phone and start looking through my Instagram feed, when suddenly:
Oh. There she is. At the beach. Right. She left for Puerto Peñasco with her parents and her toddler for the week. She has a life, and she is busy as well.
Her not picking up the phone was never about me.
It was never about her being upset—but I spent a full day of my life thinking about what the heck I could have done to get a reaction like this.
I had done nothing.
Useless waste of thoughts.
I’ve always struggled with this sort of thing—and even though I’ve been trying to be better about it, using my tools of meditation and yoga, it still gets me sometimes.
I am still a work in process.
It doesn’t happen all the time, but as an empath, it has been particularly hard for me to work on not taking things too deeply. I get upset when others get upset. I cry for people I don’t know, and I get anxiety from situations I can’t control—like intolerance, hate crimes, climate change, and animal endangerment.
I would love to hold the hands of those who suffer and fix the problems of those in need. I want to alleviate the pain and bring peace. I am honest, stubborn, and sometimes, bold—but I still try to help in whatever ways I can find.
Slowly, I have learned to tell myself, “It is not your fault, and it is not your responsibility. You have done your share; the rest is up to them.”
I take a deep breath and let go.
The world is not conspiring against us.
If we could all stop taking things so personally—if we could understand that people’s lives go beyond just ourselves—we would spare ourselves (and others) so much suffering.
We are all part of something much bigger. We are part of a beautiful cosmos that moves in harmony—but we are not the center of it.
Maybe when we understand this, things will get easier for all of us.
Meditation has become a vital ally—the capacity to observe the situation and realize that I have nothing to do with the actions of others, and others don’t have anything to do with my actions.
We all choose what to do and how to take things.
We can all learn to slow down and take a breath before jumping to conclusions and burning down everything.
What would happen if the next time someone tells us, “It’s not you, it’s me,” we believe it and step aside, even if they’re full of sh*t. Then, they get time to reset themselves, because it is probably really about them.
Let’s be kind to those around us—and whenever we feel that someone is picking a fight, let’s step back, take a deep breath, and observe.
If it is about you—talk, have a gentle, mindful conversation about it. But, the probability is that it’s not about you—so just let it go and keep on going with your life.
Author: Montse Leon
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Travis May